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I Heart Veal

November 14, 2009

I just cooked and ate something that I have never eaten before and, unitl only recently, never would have considered a viable option for dinner. Tonight I had roasted veal heart with potatoes and salad for dinner. If this seems unclear let me clarify, it was in fact the heart from a young cow that I roasted in a pan and ate for my dinner. Photobucket

There is a famous chef by the name of Fergus Henderson who has a well renowned restaurant named ST. John in England. His first cookbook: The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating, was written with the idea that, when eating an animal, no bone or scrap of meat ought to be wasted. I respect this idea and hope that it can be embraced all over the world. This is the story of how I came to eat veal heart for dinner.

At the restaurant where I work, the spotted pig, Fergus and his crew come in one night a year and design half the menu and help to cook it. It is almost like a festival for food enthusiasts and die hard chefs. They call it “fergstock.” Amongst the dishes this year were duck hearts, ox tongue and pigs head pie (for two). They also had grilled ox heart with thick cut chips. Though I got to see the dish, I never got to taste it, which broke my human heart. They grilled the heart as though it were a steak and served it medium rare. heart is not something that Americans are used to eating, and probably not the norm in any culture. I find this kind of eating fascinating and I was sad I didn’t get to try any of the dishes, but I did not consider it a coincidence when I went to the butcher shop two days later and saw that they were selling fresh veal hearts. I considered it a sign and bought just one for myself, for I do not think I would be able to convince any of my friends to come over for veal heart.

Since Fergus had treated the heart as you would any fresh piece of meat by not overcooking it and seasoning it simply with salt and pepper, I decided that I would do the same thing. Sadly, I do not have a grill in my tiny kitchen as they do at the restaurant so I went to my fall back of pan roasting. I applied a method that a chef in seattle taught me where you sear a piece of meat on all sides, then turn the heat down a bit, add one or two tablespoons of butter to the pan and spoon the hot butter over the meat for a minute or two. The hot butter continues to cook the meat slowly and gives it a rich flavor. It also means you don’t have to turn on your oven.

PhotobucketSo I seared it on all sides and basted it with hot butter until it felt done. Then I set it aside to rest, deglazed the pan with thyme, shallot and a bit of chicken stock and let it reduce. After 5 minutes I sliced up the meat. It looked medium rare and smelled like steak. I served it with some steamed potatoes and a fennel and apple salad. It was so much fun to eat. The meat was definitely a bit odd at first. It looked like a very red piece of liver and had a texture like that of a very thick mushroom, but it tasted like steak. It was delicious and I recommend that any person who has the chance try eating heart, though as with any meat, get it fresh and from a reputable vendor or butcher.

Note: I did not intend to write about this dish. It is not really a recipe that I expect to be replicated, but I hope that we can start changing the way that we perceive meat and know that even some of the stranger cuts are better eaten than thrown in the trash. Waste not want not.


If you do have any questions or would like to know more about how I cooked this, e-mail me at

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2009 9:30 pm

    Kudos to you for eating outside the box! I grew up eating all the odd bits from the animals my Grandfather raised and count myself supremely lucky for being exposed to these parts at a young age. It is a real stretch to find recipes or even mention of offal in print or on-line. I have Fergus Henderson’s book and refer to it often along with frequent perusing through old thrift store cookbooks I’ve found such as The Complete Round the World Meat Cookbook – Myra Waldo and With a Jug of Wine – Morrison Wood. Looking forward to more eating adventures.

  2. delicousdawn permalink
    January 24, 2010 4:31 pm

    I’m making veal heart tonight 🙂

  3. Julia permalink
    March 27, 2010 11:31 am

    that sounds absolutely delicious. i can’t wait to try it.

  4. May 25, 2010 10:42 pm

    Ive said it a millon times, you are by far the most cultured american guy I”ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

  5. February 9, 2012 4:06 am

    this sounds well good. i found it by gogling roasted veal heart as i’m cooking one for valentines! more detail on how you cooked it would be ace, as i am much better at cooking things slowly than quickly. i also heard heart can be a bit tough and i’d like to avoiud that!


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